October is National Eat Better, Eat Together Month and when families eat together, meals are likely to be more nutritious and kids who eat regularly with their families are less likely to snack on unhealthy foods and are more likely to eat fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
As the weather turns colder, the kitchen table draws us in with comforting fall foods. Sharing a meal as a family has many benefits. Children who eat at the table with their families are more likely to eat a variety of foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Families gathered around a meal have the opportunity to reconnect, catching up on the events at work, school and daily life. Connecting and communicating as a family daily strengthens family ties and reduces behavior problems at home and school. Keep meal time a special time for positive conversation and catching up with family members. Give everyone a chance to talk and share together. October is the perfect time to eat better, eat together!
Here are a few tips on how to have more family meals:
Make it a priority. If you do not eat together regularly, start with once a week and grow from there.
Plan. Write it on the calendar and plan family eating time together. Text reminders to family members.
Be flexible. Dinner time can be a busy time. Try a family breakfast or lunch. A weekend brunch is also a great option.
Prepare meals ahead of time. Keep a family generated shopping list. Make sure you have everything you need before you start! Prep for meals when you have time. Cook meat in bulk and freeze the extra portions. Cut vegetables on a weekend to use throughout the week.
Keep it simple. A family meal does not have to be extravagant to be meaningful.
Involve all family members. Make a list of foods everyone likes. Have the family help prepare the meal. Younger children can add napkins to the table while older children can work preparing the meal. Everyone can help clean up!
Halloween Fruit Parfaits
- 1 can (20 ounces) pineapple tidbits in 100% juice, drained (see note)
- 2 cans (15 ounces) mandarin oranges in water, no sugar added, drained
- 2 cups nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt
- 6 pieces candy corn
Drain pineapple tidbits and mandarin oranges.
Layer 1/3 cup pineapple tidbits, 1/3 cup mandarin oranges and 1/3 cup yogurt in each of 6 clear plastic cups (9 ounces).
Keep parfaits in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Garnish with a piece of candy corn right before serving.
Makes 6 servings.
Note: Select fruit canned in 100% fruit juice or water rather than syrup when choosing canned fruits.
Variations: Try fresh fruit in place of canned fruit. Swap out any yellow and orange fruit you like best such as using peaches or cantaloupe for mandarin oranges.
Nutrition information per parfait: 157 calories, 0g fat, 37mg sodium, 31.5g carbohydrate, 1.3g fiber, 7.7g protein.